Friday, June 18, 2010

The Uniqueness of the Individual

The following Dvar Torah on the Parsha was written by Rabbi Yosef Halevi Soloveichik.

פרשת חקת

Parshas Chukas describes the end of the forty year journey of Am Yisrael in the midbar. The people of the Dor Hamidbar had all died. The parsha opens with the laws of the parah adumah to teach how one purifies himself from tumas mes. And then the narration resumes. We are told of מיתת מרים, the great nurturer and neviah of Am Yisrael. We are told of Moshe and Aharon erring at מי מריבה , and Hashem informing them, לא תביאו את הקהל הזה אל הארץ אשר נתתי להם.

We are told of Am Yisrael's finally approaching the land of Edom, and Edom’s refusal to allow Am Yisrael to pass through. We are told of מיתת אהרן, the Kohain Gadol, so beloved to the whole nation, the ensuing war and victory over Amalek disguised as Kena'an. This is followed by a spiritual decline, as Am Yisrael cry, למה העליתנו ממצרים למות במדבר כי אין לחם ואין מים ונפשנו קצה בלחם הקלקל. After Am Yisrael was attacked by serpents, Moshe Rabbainu was instructed by Hashem to suspend a nachash on a banner.

A person who was bitten by a serpent would raise his eyes to Heaven and would be cured.

We are told how Am Yisrael passed between the land of Moav and the land of the Emori. Here, a miraculous salvation took place. The route that was to be taken passed between two mountains in close proximity to each other. One of the mountains, on the side of the Land of Emori, had jagged edges jutting out over the valley below. The other mountain, on the side of Moav, had caves on its side that overlooked the valley. The Emorites plotted that multitudes and multitudes of goyim would gather together and hide in the caves. When Am Yisrael would pass through the valley below, they would attack the Jews below by surprise with an onslaught of arrows and boulders..

HaShem had other plans.. HaShem had the Aron Habris, which represents the ,תורה travel before the nation, clearing and flattening the route. Hashem brought these two mountains together, like two puzzle pieces. The jagged edges on the side of one mountain fit perfectly into caves on the facing side of the other mountain. Am Yisrael were able to comfortably and safely journey over the top of the two now-joined mountains. And the enemy Emorites, hiding out in the caves below, were smashed..

How did we ever find out about this great נס??

על כן יאמר בספר מלחמות ה' את והב בסופה

The Gemara ברכות נ"ד relates how Am Yisrael was unaware of the great miracle. However, the באר, which faithfully followed Am Yisrael throughout their journeys, flowed through the valley below the two joined mountains. When the two mountains joined together, and the hiding Emorites were killed, their blood flowed into the waters below, as did their disjointed limbs.

The only ones that took notice of the telltale signs of the aborted attack were two מצורעים, two lepers, by the names of Es and Hav, who traveled בסוף, at the end of the camp of Am Yisrael. These two, את והב בסופה revealed this great miracle that had happened under the very feet of Am Yisrael, without anyone being aware of what was happening.

And then, in response, Am Yisrael sang Shirah, the שירת הבאר:

אז ישיר ישראל את השירה הזאת עלי באר ענו לה. באר חפרוה שרים כרוה נדיבי העם במחקק במשענתם וממדבר מתנה.
וממתנה נחליאל ומנחליאל במות. ומבמות הגיא אשר בשדה מואב ראש הפסגה ונשקפה על פני הישימן.

They sang Shirah about this extraordinary באר, dug up by Moshe and Aharon, and drawn out to each Shevet by its Nasi. The באר faithfully followed Am Yisrael and served them through all their years in the midbar until the demise of Moshe Rabbainu. It then entered into the Lake of Teveria (the Kinneret) and can be seen by a person looking down from the Yeshimon.

The medrash delves deeper into the words of the שירת הבאר, and explains the song as referring to the Torah. The Torah would eventually be disseminated and expounded to Am Yisrael through the three levels of Sanhedrin, which convened in the area of Har HaBayis and in the Bais Hamikdash:

וממתנה נחליאל, אלו סנהדרין, שבהר הבית. ומנחליאל במות, אלו סנהדרין, שבעזרה בצד המזבח. ומבמות הגיא אשר בשדה מואב, אלו סנהדרין, שבלשכת הגזית בתחום רות שבאה משדה מואב, נערה מואביה היא, השבה עם נעמי משדה מואב, ונשקפה על פני הישימון ששם תורה יצאה לכל בני ישראל

The three levels of Sanhedrin were represented by the three boxes that Betzalel formed for the Aron HaBris. It was this Aron HaBris that traveled before Am Yisrael, and killed off the Emoriim. The Sanhedrin that sat in the Bais HaMikdash was parallel to the Mikdash Above. The Torah emanates from the Mikdash Above, from the כסא הכבוד, to all of Klal Yisrael. For in the Heavenly Throne Above, are engraved the 600,000 souls of Am Yisrael. Each soul has a letter, and a unique part in the Torah. This is the secret of the ,באר that Moshe was instructed by Hashem to gather the nation and Hashem would give them water.

ומשם בארה, הוא הבאר אשר אמר ה' למשה אסף את העם ואתנה להם מים.

Parshas Chukas is the beginning of a new generation, the dor that must prepare for entering Eretz Yisrael. They must adjust to great changes. Miriam HaNeviah has passed away. Aharon, the beloved Kohain Gadol has passed away. Moshe Rabbainu, the Rebbe of Am Yisrael has been informed לא תביאו את הקהל הזה אל הארץ אשר נתתי להם.

The great miracle by Nachal Arnon was very different from the miracles at קריעת ים סוף. By Yam Suf, the miracles were revealed clearly to all as they occurred. Here, no one knew what was happening at the actual time of the miracle. It was only later, when the באר continued flowing with all the signs of the dead Emori’im, that Am Yisrael realized the great נס and salvation. And the only ones to report the miracle were the most isolated and ostracized individuals of the nation, two מצורעים who traveled בסוף המחנה.

Am Yisrael's response is to break out in song. And in their song allusion is made to the Sanhedrin, disseminating Torah to the entire community of Yisrael, empowered by the Torah in the Mikdash Above. משם יוצאת הוראה לכל ישראל. This Torah is comprised of the 600,000 souls of Am Yisrael, gathered together by Moshe Rabbainu..

The מגלה עמוקות explains חפרוה שרים as referring to the אבות. אברהם אבינו knew the entire Torah. Avraham knew the entire תורה שבכתב and the entire תורה שבעל פה. Even כל מה שעתיד תלמיד ותיק עתיד לחדש was already revealed to Avraham Aveinu. כרוה נדיבי עם refers to משה רבינו, that משה רבינו channeled the entire Torah and indelibly engraved the Torah upon the neshamos of Am Yisrael. The Ramban says that all of the כוחות הנפש of Am Yisrael were contained in Avraham Aveinu.

This is the meaning of וה' ברך את אברהם בכל. These כוחות הנפש were then channeled, divided and distributed via the shevatim amongst all the individual neshamos of Am Yisrael. Each individual has his own unique כוחות הנפש that are not to be found in any other individuals. There are not any doubles. And this is why every individual has his own unique חלק in the Torah.

And the uniqueness of the כוחות הנפש of every individual and the unique חלק that each individual has in the Torah is expressed by the medrash through the personality of רות הגיורתwho came almost completely alone from an alien place to Am Yisrael and had no roots in the land. תחום רות הבאה משדה מואב נערה המואביה השבה עם נעמי משדה מואב. This is what משה רבינו bequeathed to Am Yisrael as they were getting ready to enter Eretz Yisrael.

How is Am Yisrael to survive when the ג' רועים depart, when Moshe Rabbainu takes leave of them? The great revelations of the Dor HaMidbar are over, and there is a transition to a new era, a new generation, a new type of life.

We survive through the כוח of the Torah and especially, specifically and predominantly through the כוח of the תורה שבעל פה. And the totality and completeness of תורה שבעל פה resides in the totality of all the individual neshamos of Am Yisrael. Because all of the individual neshamos of Am Yisrael are engraved into the כסא הכבוד and the Torah emanates from the כסא הכבוד. And every individual neshama has its own unique חלק in the Torah because every individual neshama of Am Yisrael is engraved into the כסא הכבוד.

And the כוח of תורה שבעל פה is derived from the כסא הכבוד in which this totality and completeness of נשמות ישראל are engraved. And the כוחof the סנהדרין שבלשכת הגזית to teach the תורה שבעל פה to כל ישראל derives from the כסא הכבוד because all of the neshamos of Am Yisrael are engraved there in the Heavenly Throne above the מקום המקדש where the Sanhedrin convened. .ומשם יפוצו מעיינות התורה חוצה

וסנהדרין של לשכת הגזית עולם הבריאה שהיא סמוך למקדש העליון ומשם יוצאת תורה כי תורה מכסא הככוד קא אתיא לכל ישראל דייקא כי כשם שס' רבוא אותיות לתורה כך ס' רבוא נשמות לישראל לכל א' מישראל מחוקק במשענותם יש לו חק וגבול בתורה משם יפוצו מעיינות התורה חוצה. (מגלה עמוקות)

How does Am Yisrael continue to survive through out all the generations of galus and persecution? Through תורה שבעל פה. And every individual in Am Yisrael has his own unique חלק in the תורה שבעל פהwhich is not possessed by any other individual. And the כוח of תורה שבעל פה derives from the כסא הכבוד in which every individual neshama of Am Yisrael is engraved.

כסא כבוד מרום מראשון מקום מקדשנו מקוה ישראל ה' (ירמיהו פרק ט"ז)

And we, therefore, are pained and agonized by the continual endeavor of different people in the Torah community to establish Torah mosdos in an exclusive, elitist, racist and discriminatory setting. They proclaim that they are interested in advancing Torah. But the reality is that they are only interested in advancing their own arrogance and in promoting their own power. When we see politicians manipulating masses of people to cry out deceptively under a banner of Torah in favor of racism, discrimination, elitism and self-aggrandizement, we cry out to HaShem - הצילה נפשי משפת שקר מלשון רמיה.

The issue is not whether they are obligated to listen to the Bagatz or not!? The question has nothing to do with the Bagatz. The people that promote elitism, exclusiveness, racism and discrimination in the learning of Torah are not contending with the Bagatz. They are contending ר"ל with the נצחיות of Torah and the נצחיות of Am Yisrael. The יסוד that every individual Jew has his own unique חלק in the Torah is engraved in the כסא הכבוד. The concept of the inalienable right of each Jewish child and every single individual Jewish neshama to learn Torah in a non- discriminatory, non-racist and non-elitist environment devoid of condescension and arrogance is emboldenly engraved into the Heavenly Throne. ומשם יפוצו מעיינות התורה חוצה.

וממדבר מתנה- למה נתנה במדבר?
שאילו נתנה להם בארץ היה השבט שנתנה בתחומו מדיין ואומר, אני קודם בה!
לכך נתנה במדבר שיהו הכל שוין בה. (ילקוט שמעוני פרשת חוקת)

A gutten Erev Shabbos from Yeushalayim Ir HaKodesh

לעלוי נשמת הגאון הר"ר אהרן בן הר"ר משה הלוי סאלאווייציק זצ"ל